This is in response to the July 10 letter, “Seek only the best and brightest,” from Russ Nieli *79. His thesis that Princeton’s diversity has made it somehow inferior to Caltech is laughable. Today the Princeton brand is stronger, more competitive, and more diverse than ever.
Mr. Nieli, obsessed with the Caltech model, seems to think that all of humanity can be ranked 1 through 6 billion from the results of a single test. That sounds like a bad science-fiction movie, or present-day China. Is that a model we should emulate? By Mr. Nieli’s lights, it is.
The 40-year results of Princeton’s coeducation/diversity have been spectacular: Supreme Court appointees, tech titans, deans, renowned professors, foundation heads, Wall Street players, CEOs, political leaders, and a beloved first lady.
The freshman-retention rate indicates that Princeton is selecting the best and the brightest. Does a brilliant kid from Uzbekistan High School get a leg up in admissions? I hope so. He’ll add something special, as will that home-schooled Inuit from Alaska, the evangelical Christian valedictorian, the Latino from East L.A., and the fourth-generation legacy. Let them all join the conversation that makes Princeton the best and most exciting undergraduate education in the world.
Mr. Nieli should be glad he’s not competing today. His era was among the last to benefit from white-male preference. Fortunately, that hideous time is in our rearview mirror.